Bahá’ís believe that world peace is an inevitable stage in the progress of humanity. If we do not reach it through our own efforts, we are likely to be forced into it by some global catastrophe. Bahá’ís believe that humanity as a whole is coming out of its adolescence and is reaching its stage of adulthood. World peace will be the fruit of this new maturity.
The Bahá’í Plan
In the 1860s Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, set out a plan to achieve peace in the world. He said that there should be a world peace conference at which all the nations and peoples of the world should be represented. The object of this conference would be to agree a universal peace treaty which would:
- Fix the frontiers of each country so that there need be no more wars over nationhood or land ownership.
- Lay down the principles underlying the relationships between governments. This could include an agreement not to help or supply weapons to terrorists or insurgents in any other country.
- Decide the level of armaments to be held by each country. This would be sufficient only for its own security and to maintain internal order. It would not therefore be a threat to any other country.
Bahá’u’lláh also clearly stated that if any government then broke the treaty, the entire world should unite to remove the offending government. No-one would then dare break this treaty and the world’s population would be able to live in peace and security without the threat of war.
This vision, together with the associated principles which would define and support the peace, was communicated to the rulers of the time. Unfortunately, those rulers chose to ignore this advice and war continued, including the two terrible world wars. It is surely time now to make progress with the cause of peace.
Peace by Degrees
It is obvious that the human world is not capable of transforming itself overnight into one united, loving family. But a framework of political peace, as described above, should be possible to achieve.
Though a very welcome first step, this would be a limited peace based on fear – fear of retribution. A more positive and lasting peace would be based on love, on recognition of our common humanity. Achieving this kind of peace will be a more gradual process.
Some Fundamental Principles
There are some basic principles on which a future world system should be built. Chief among these should be the “oneness” of mankind – a recognition that all human beings are ultimately from one human stock. Alongside this should be the recognition that each of the world’s major historical belief systems – the world religions – has its own part to play in promoting the well-being of mankind. Bahá’u’lláh actually went further than this, declaring them all to be the result of divine providence: all the religions are part of the one divine plan, leading us to an ever-advancing civilisation. Religion in its pure form has always been a unifying force for good. On the other hand, Bahá’u’lláh warned against religious fanaticism and hatred which he described as “a world-devouring fire”. The recognition of other faiths and acceptance of other ethnic groups would remove the basis of many conflicts.
The peoples of the world should also choose one language, to be taught in every school, as a means of universal communication. Once this is adopted, a major barrier to mutual understanding will rapidly disappear. The Bahá’í Writings say: “Peace must first be established among individuals, until it leadeth in the end to peace among nations.”
The Voice of Women
Another underlying principle is that everyone should have the right to an education. Bahá’u’lláh particularly stressed the importance of educating girls, as they are the mothers of the future and the first teachers of their children. Women as a whole readily recognise the importance of world peace because, when they have devoted their lives to bringing up their children, they do not generally wish to see them sacrificed on the field of battle. When women’s voices are heard in every country, there will be a more powerful movement towards peace. Bahá’í communities in every country work to raise up women to their proper place in society – an equal partnership with men.
Bahá’ís envisage the world evolving gradually towards the long term goal of a form of world administration. A world parliament would allow for the discussion of important issues and a world system of law and justice would help to establish order in the world. There is already a great deal of co-operation in law enforcement, as well as in areas such as transport, communications and health. There is scope for so much more.
A Moral Basis
Bahá’u’lláh emphasised the need for moral regeneration in order for these new systems to work successfully. Unfortunately, corruption exists to a greater or lesser extent in most societies. Bahá’u’lláh described trustworthiness as a fundamental and essential virtue:
“Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquillity and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it.”
Each country needs to demonstrate that it is trustworthy in order that binding commitments can be made in the path towards peace.
A Fairer Economic System
At first sight, bringing about a fairer economic system may not seem to be essential to world peace. However, while individual countries put their own short term interests above those of others, we will continue to experience instability. Rather than decisions being made based solely on selfish interests, the recognition of our common humanity should lead to the principle of justice for all.
The world should also agree on one system of weights and measures and adopt a single currency. This would greatly assist in bringing equality to the nations. As Bahá’u’lláh said:
“The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Peace Will Come
“These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come…”
It is the responsibility of those of us who are on earth at the moment to create this peace, both for our own generation and for those who will come after us.
If you would like to join the Bahá’ís in their peace-building and community-building efforts, please find contact information at bahai.org
The text of all these leaflets remains the copyright of Warwick Bahá'í Bookshop. The Bookshop is happy for people to download individual copies for their own purposes. Printed copies can be purchased from the Warwick Bookshop. Individuals or communities wishing to translate or print these leaflets in other countries please contact the Bookshop for permission.